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Telemarketers spoof caller ID to bypass law

December 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
LinDee Rochelle has always been dialed in to the National Do Not Call Registry. But about two times a week, a telemarketer calls her home office.

"You're prepared for a business call, and when you get something like that, it's just like you were interrupted for absolutely no good reason," Rochelle said.

Rochelle checks her caller I.D. before picking up the phone, but has noticed that some telemarketers aren't who they appear to be.

"I will go to the Internet and search that phone number, and oh my goodness, look at that forum full of people complaining about that number," Rochelle said.

Rochelle is a victim of caller I.D. spoofing. It happens when a caller disguises their name and phone number to make it look like they're someone else.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that some telemarketers are using spoofing to get around the National Do Not Call Registry in order to fraudulently pitch things like credit cards, mortgage relief and debt relief.

William Maxson with the FTC calls it a serious and growing problem.

"They use the name or number of a recognizable national brand or organization to give themselves a veil of legitimacy," Maxson said. "It's that invasion of privacy that concerns us. The consumer can feel overwhelmed."

If you have a complaint, start with your phone company. If that doesn't help, contact the California State Attorney General's Office.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says it's important to keep a log of the spoofs you receive.

"The date, the time, was it a male or a female voice? What did they say? We recommend actually taking a photo of what your caller ID is showing you," said Amber Yoo of the PRC.

After that, it's recommended that a complaint be filed with the FTC. They're fighting back by actively investigating complaints.

"We've already brought nearly a dozen cases against companies that are engaged in caller ID spoofing," Maxson said.


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